In the 1960s American animated sitcom ‘The Jetsons’ the household robot was called ‘Rosie’. Though an outdated model, the Jetsons loved her and would never trade her for a newer model. Rosie was a strong authoritarian, did all the housework and some of the parenting and occasionally dispensed pills.
Willow Garage is a team of experts in robot design, control, perception, and machine learning. With both a strong theoretical background and a demonstrated drive to produce practical systems, they see personal robots as the next paradigm-shifting personal productivity tool. In the video from The Avant/Garde Diaries (see below) Robot scientist Leila Takayama of Willow Garage talks a bit about the advantages of owning a robot.
Dr. Takayama dramatizes her theory that robots are “not going to take over the world – they’re just peers, companions” by high-fiving, hugging, and ballroom dancing with Willow Garage’s largest prototype, the PR2.
Leila Takayama is a Research Scientist and Manager in the area of Human-Robot Interaction. With a background in Cognitive Science, Psychology, and Human-Computer Interaction, her current focus is understanding human encounters with robots in terms of how they perceive, understand, feel about, and interact with robots. Among other things, she is working on teaching the robots some manners. This year, she was named one of the Tech Review’s 35 innovators under 35 as well as one of Fast Company’s 100 most creative people in business.
Her research interests include embodied cognition and the social and cognitive psychology of interacting with non-human agents. She studies how people come to feel that their tools are invisible-in-use (e.g., tele-operated robots) and potentially change their perspectives on the world. She also studies how people engage with non-human agents (e.g., autonomous robots). Though her primary method of inquiry is controlled experiments, she is constantly expanding her methodological toolkit by learning and using field studies, surveys, interviews, archival studies, etc., depending upon what is most effective for addressing the research questions at hand.
She also discusses elements of the design process to make robots “feel more approachable,” and the role of science fiction in robotics. But it involves more than just giving high-fives!
Dr. Takayama completed her PhD in the Communication between Humans and Interactive Media (CHIMe) lab at Stanford University in 2008, advised by Professor Clifford Nass. She also holds a PhD minor in Psychology from Stanford, MA in Communication from Stanford, and BAs in Psychology and Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley (2003). During her graduate studies, she was a research assistant in the User Interface Research (UIR) group at Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Her thesis, titled Throwing Voices: Investigating the Psychological Effects of the Spatial Location of Projected Voices, won the Nathan Maccoby outstanding dissertation award. Before joining Willow Garage, she was a research scientist at Nokia Research Center.